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Book Review: The New Rules of Marketing and PR

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

There are two kinds of readers who won't like David Meerman Scott's The New Rules of Marketing & PR; fortunately for the author, both groups are small. The first is that small group of ahead-of-the-curve web marketers and PR professionals who have already figured out how to integrate online efforts between optimized news releases, blogs, social media sites, podcasts and all of the other content distribution and promotional tools now available online (though the ranks of this group will be swelled by the readers of David's book).

The second group is the diminishing number of old-school PR and marketing practitioners, those who still believe that press releases are only for the media, that you have to interrupt people with your marketing message to get their attention, and that campaigns aren't real unless they are on TV. This book explodes their old view of the world.

Scott performs two important services with this book, one tactical and one strategic. Tactically he pulls together a disparate set of new media tools into a coherent framework, while strategically, he presents one big idea.

On the tactical side, Scott presents a coherent framework for integrating all the tools of Web 2.0 into a unified marketing and PR program: blogs, podcasting, wikis, online discussion forums, social media, video, websites and search marketing. While many B2C and B2B marketers use at least a subset of these tools regularly, thinking about them in a unified manner can be challenging. An integrated approach maximizes the impact of online marketing and PR efforts, and Scott provides a useful thought framework for creating a coherent and productive action plan.

Strategically, Scott devotes much of the book to one key new rule of PR: it’s no longer just about media relations—writing press releases for journalists and hoping they’ll write about your product, service or company, but more about what I’ll call market relations (more about this in a future post)—writing news releases and using online distribution tools to reach your potential buyers directly.

Press releases are part of the old rules (though they still have their place): write about your company or its offerings, and distribute this information directly to journalists as well as through traditional services such as Marketwire, PR Newswire and Business Wire. News releases aren’t necessarily about you—they are about topics your prospects are interested in: new ideas, perspectives on what’s happening in the industry or helpful guidance on solving problems. These are distributed through online distribution services such as PRWeb and promoted through blog posts, podcasts and Web 2.0 social media.

One measure I have of a book’s utility is how many passages I highlight; I wore out a highlighter on this book. Here are a few key illustrative points and quotes:
  • PR practitioners under-utilize blog research. “How difficult can it be to read the blogs of reporters you’re trying to pitch? It teaches you precisely what interests them. And then you email them with something interesting that they are likely to write about rather than spamming them with unsolicited press releases.”

  • Taking your message directly to your prospects through thought-leadership news releases is a more productive approach to the media as well. “If you do a good job telling your story directly, the media will find out. And then they will write about you!”

  • A market relations strategy won’t produce results overnight, but the beneficial effect is cumulative over time as your prospects come to see your company as a source of insightful, interesting expert content and commentary.

  • Under the new rules, you are what you publish. “Anybody who wants to be a leader has to have news coming out...Businesses will live or die on original content…Get down to the essence of what (problems) your product solves and write good stories about that and publish them online.”

  • Marketing and PR have to be less about fluff and more about substance. “What links all of these techniques together is that organizations…behave like publishers, creating content that people are eager to consume. Organizations gain credibility and loyalty with buyers through content, and smart marketers now think and act like publishers in order to create and deliver content targeted directly at their audience.”

  • Thought leadership content is the ultimate marketing message. “Content brands an organization as a thought leader...Instead of just directly selling something, a great site, blog or podcast series tells the world that you are smart, that you understand the market very well, and that you would be a person or organization that would be valuable to do business with.”

There’s much more—about the power of blogs, the value of content aggregation, the challenge of viral marketing, the importance of online brand monitoring, how to utilize social media, why the “4 P’s” of marketing are nonsense, developing buyer personas and speaking their language, common PR terms to avoid, why you shouldn’t design your website’s media room just (or even primarily) for the media, and how to “pimp out” a blog.

The section on blogging is particularly useful, even for experienced bloggers. And as Scott points out, for many clued-in marketers and CEOs today, “It used to be that the moment of truth was when somebody went to the store to find your product. Now the moment of truth is a link to your site from a blog.” A well-written business blog can serve as a “storefront, shingle, office sign, newspaper ad and yellow-pages ad” all in one.

In short, this book rocks.


Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom
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